3D printed Mario, hand-painted
3D printed Mario, hand-painted

Here at WhiteClouds, a 3D printing service company, I have 3D printed a Mario figurine from Thingiverse. We used the Mojo printer by Stratasys, which used white ABS plastic to print the part. Loading the model was simple. All we needed to do was open the Mojo’s interfacing program, import the file, and then the software sliced the model into sections. Once that was complete, the sliced model is permanently saved onto the software, making it easy to print another one.

It took 15 hour and 38 minutes to complete the print on the Mojo. It took so long because the print is solid with 0.7 mm layers. The Mojo will have software updates to change the in-fill settings and prints can be completed faster. Then we wrangled the print off the build platform. The process was a lot like ripping off Velcro, except it took longer and required a bit more prising. The Mario was surrounded by support material, so Jess, our designer, took needle-nose pliers and clipped off as much of the support material as she could without damaging the Mario. She described the process as akin to clipping toe nails.

Then, we emerged Mario into a vat of acetone to dissolve the remainder of the support material. We left the model in overnight, but it typically takes 2-7 hours to dissolve support material, depending on the piece. Then I took a rag dipped in acetone to spit-shine the Mario. This took about 20 minutes. The time it takes depends on the piece and how fast you are at polishing.

Since the Mario was printed in white plastic, I naturally wanted a full-color Mario. To do this, I used acrylic paints that I had purchased from a local craft store. Painting the Mario was just like painting any other figurine. The paint had no problem sticking to the print. It took about an hour to finish painting him. I let the paint dry and then touched up my mistakes, which took about 10 or 15 minutes. After I had painted him, we applied lacquer to make him shiny.

Overall, the experience was fun and easy. 3D printing figurines to suit your needs is a great way to get involved in craft projects such as this.